July 17, 2014 11:26 am

Health officials declare chikungunya epidemic in Puerto Rico

This 2006 photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of two types of mosquitoes that can carry the chikungunya virus.

Centers for Disease Control and James Gathany/AP Photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Health officials in Puerto Rico have declared an epidemic of the mosquito-borne virus known as chikungunya.

Health Secretary Ana Rius said Thursday that more than 200 cases have been confirmed on the island as of June 25.

The first case of chikungunya in the U.S. territory was reported in late May.

Across the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization has recorded more than 354,000 suspected and confirmed cases as of July 11. The Western Hemisphere’s first locally transmitted case was confirmed in December in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin.

Chikungunya was first identified in Africa in 1953. It causes a high fever and severe pain in the joints, but is rarely fatal. There is no vaccine, and it mainly is treated with pain medication.

Global News

© The Associated Press, 2014

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